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Introduction Age is the primary risk factor for major human chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disorders, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases. Chronic, low-grade, systemic inflammation is associated with aging and the progression of immunosenescence. Immunosenescence may play an important role in the development of age-related chronic disease and the widely observed phenomenon of increased production of inflammatory mediators that accompany this process, referred to as “inflammaging”. While it has been demonstrated that the gut microbiome and immune system interact, the relationship between the gut microbiome and age remains to be clearly defined, particularly in the context of inflammation. The aim of the study was to clarify the associations between age, the gut microbiome, and pro-inflammatory marker serum MCP-1 in a C57BL/6 murine model. Results We used 16S rRNA gene sequencing to profile the composition of fecal microbiota associated with young and aged mice. Our analysis identified an association between microbiome structure and mouse age, and revealed specific groups of taxa whose abundances stratify young and aged mice. This includes the Ruminococcaceae, Clostridiaceae, and Enterobacteriaceae. We also profiled pro-inflammatory serum MCP-1 levels of each mouse and found that aged mice exhibited elevated serum MCP-1, a phenotype consistent with inflammaging. Robust correlation tests identified several taxa whose abundance in the microbiome associates with serum MCP-1 status, indicating that they may interact with the mouse immune system. We find that taxonomically similar organisms can exhibit differing, even opposite, patterns of association with the host immune system. We also find that many of the OTUs that associate with serum MCP-1 also stratify individuals by age. Discussion Our results demonstrate that gut microbiome composition is associated with age and the pro-inflammatory marker, serum MCP-1. The correlation between age, relative abundance of specific taxa in the gut microbiome, and serum MCP-1 status in mice indicates that the gut microbiome may play a modulating role in age-related inflammatory processes. These findings warrant further investigation of taxa associated with the inflammaging phenotype and the role of gut microbiome in the health status and immune function of aged individuals.
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